ASMR has attracted a lot of media attention in the media over the last few years. The phenomenon is something that most people can experience. It is defined as a calming, pleasurable tingling sensation that occurs in response to some types of stimuli.
How Does ASMR Work?
ASMR triggers are usually sounds. Some people find that tapping or crinkling triggers the sensation. For some people, whispers, white noise, or the sound of your hair being combed is enough to trigger it. Each person has their own triggers, and what feels nice for one person could be another person’s worst nightmare. ASMR sounds are typically soft, crisp or quiet. It is the kind of sound that you have to focus if you want to hear it.1
While there has been an ASMR subculture for quite a long time now, the first true formal studies on ASMR didn’t begin until 2015. Researchers identified four types of triggers for the feeling: whispers, personal attention, crisp sound, and slow movement.
The Science Behind ASMR
The study of the science behind ASMR is still in its infancy, but researchers have found that ASMR does have some clear benefits. One study divided individuals into ASMR-receptive and ASMR-nonreceptive individuals. It found that people who experience ASMR exhibit lower heart rates and higher skin conduction (a way of measuring emotional arousal) after watching ASMR videos.2 So, the phenomenon is real. The question then is why do humans experience it and what purpose does it serve?
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When people experience ASMR phenomenon, their body releases endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. The oxytocin increases the body’s response to endorphins, while dopamine makes the individual feel good. Serotonin promotes relaxation and better sleep.
It is thought that ASMR is a natural, evolutionary response. It is useful for interpersonal bonding, especially with young children.
Modern Life and Old Cues
Adults in the modern world don’t necessarily get as much human interaction as they may have years ago. New jobs and hobbies mean that people are isolated. This has given rise to a number of mental health issues and with unusual solutions.
For example, in Korea, where people tend to eat together, there is a new phenomenon called the Mukbang, or “eating show.” People who are feeling lonely and isolated can watch others eat while they eat themselves.3 Indeed, some Mukbang streams are live, with streamers talking about their day while they eat.
ASMR is, in some ways, similar to this. There are ASMR virtual barber shops and even ASMR opticians that will give viewers a simulated eye exam while they sit back and listen. This lets people recreate the experiences that they enjoy and feel one-on-one attention without having to leave the house. ASMR is valuable for busy people and for those who are disabled or suffer from social anxiety. It’s a fun and relaxing experience that has an important place in the modern world.
For individuals who can experience ASMR, the experience has a lot to offer as a way to soothe nerves, relax, unwind, and promote sleep.
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